MILTON, Fla. (WKRG) — The City of Milton City Council voted unanimously to reject its proposed open container ordinance on Monday night.
The Community Improvement Board met on Jan. 5, to discuss options for amending the existing open container ordinance. The current ordinance states that it is currently unlawful for any person to possess an open container of an alcoholic beverage in, on or upon public streets, rights of way, parks, parking lots or other real property owned or administered by the city, or in or on the Blackwater Heritage Trail.
The new ordinance would allow open container alcoholic beverages in the following areas from 9 a.m., until midnight, seven days a week:
- Milton Riverwalk Park
- Willing Street right-of-way
- Caroline Street right-of-way from Canal Street to the Blackwater River
- Elmira Street right-of-way from Caroline Street to Pine Street
- Pine Street right-of-way from Elmira Street to Willing Street
- Oak Street right-of-way from Elmira Street to Willing Street
- Jernigan’s Landing festival and event area
The CIB’s recommendation also comes with a sixth month moratorium designated as a “trial period.”
Before a busy public comment forum, Milton Mayor Heather Lindsay said she disagreed with the ordinance as presented.
“I trust our expert in public safety, Chief Tony Tindell,” Lindsay said.
Milton Police Chief Tony Tindell presented a memo in November, that before the proposed ordinance, they’ve experienced “high call volumes in public areas that included fights, littering, property damage, and drug sales.”
He told the board on Monday he has received hundreds of phone calls about the ordinance.
“This is not an issue of me against anyone,” Tindell said. “I’ve had a lot of people who thought that was the case, but to me, whatever decision the council decides to make, it’s our job as staff members to carry out those jobs in a professional manner. I really have a problem with people with open containers walking up and down Hwy. 90. There’s going to be trash created and issues created.
The city currently only allows open containers at special events, such as concerts, but local business owner Steve Dobbs of Beardless Brewhaus told WKRG News 5 thinks the city could benefit from a regular container policy.
“We have this gorgeous downtown area, we have this beautiful park, the waterfront,” said Dobbs. “The city is looking to expand the boardwalk, they’re looking to build more. This just might be a small way that we can have more people involved in enjoying the area.”
Everyone in attendance of the meeting on Monday night disagreed, all speaking about the negative impact an open container law could bring.
Milton resident Sherri Chapman told the board she has been an emergency trauma nurse and for the last 10 years, she has spent her time working in the emergency trauma room.
“I can tell you that a large portion of the motor vehicle accidents that are very bad involve alcohol,” Chapman said. “I want you to think about if that’s what you want in this city. Open container restrictions are constructed to benefit society as a whole, not the five businesses that sell alcohol within the community.”